by Alys Willman
Matthew 4: 1-3: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Last week, as we drove back from our spring break camping trip, I was struggling to think of a good idea for a Lenten reflection. So I asked Oscar (7) who sat next to me. What he said was better than what I had, so this is basically a transcript.
ME: Oscar, I’m thinking about that story where Jesus goes into the desert for 40 days to pray. What do you think it was like for him there?
OSCAR: Oh man! A LOT of sand. Zero trees. Zero water. It’s very rare to have a river in the desert. Actually it’s impossible. It would be crazy hard. You’d almost die.
ME: And do you remember the part of the story where the devil shows up and tells Jesus if he’ll just come and be on his side, he can have everything – food, magic powers, you name it. He tells him he could be king of the whole world.
OSCAR: I think Jesus would be a good king, actually. He’d probably say you can go to bed whenever you want, and eat whatever food you want. He’d let everyone join in all the games and not even punish people when they mess up but just let them think about what they did. Hey wait, is Dad getting another speeding ticket?
ME (watching flashing lights pass us): Eh, nope! Looks like they’re going after someone else. Back to the story – why do you think Jesus said no to all that he was offered, and instead decided to do what God asked?
OSCAR: Yeah, that’s weird. I mean, did he know he was actually going to get killed?
ME: I don’t know.
OSCAR: Well, even if he did, maybe he just missed Joseph and thought if he died he could see him again in heaven.
ME: Can you think of a time when your Dad or I asked you to do something, and you really, really didn’t want to do it?
OSCAR: Yeah. Today on the beach I was playing football and we were winning and you said it was time to go.
ME: Imagine if some dude had shown up right then and been like, “Hey Oscar, come be on my team and you can play football for the rest of your life!”
OSCAR: That would be so cool! I would definitely go with that dude.
ME: Seriously? You don’t even know this dude.
OSCAR (thinking hard): Well, yeah. And you know what? This dude might be tricking me. I mean, after a while he would probably have gotten all bossy with me and made me do everything he wanted. And you and Dad and Nico would have left and I’d be stuck with him.
ME: Maybe it was like that for Jesus in a way.
OSCAR: You want what I think? I think Jesus did the right thing. Because what if the devil was lying? What if he made him king, but then instead of a real crown he put that crown of thorns on, and then he ended up dying anyway? And God was always the one who was nice to him and took care of him. It’s probably better to go with someone who is honest with you and that you know instead of someone who’s just tricking you. Can I have a sandwich?
Prayer: God, you know us better than anyone else, and you know the ways we are tempted. Help us to seek out and pay attention to your voice and your guidance so that we will know it when we hear it. In Jesus’ name we pray.